W.E.B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois was a public intellectual, sociologist, and activist on behalf of the African American community. He profoundly shaped black political culture in the United States through his founding role in the NAACP, as well as internationally through the Pan-African movement. Du Bois's sociological and historical research on African-American communities and culture broke ground in many areas, including the history of the post-Civil War Reconstruction period. Du Bois was also a prolific author of novels, autobiographical accounts, innumerable editorials and journalistic pieces, and several works of history.
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With a dash of the Victorian and Enlightenment influences that peppered Du Bois’s impassioned yet formal prose, the largely autobiographical chapters of The Souls of Black Folks take the reader through the momentous and moody maze of Afro-American life after the Emancipation Proclamation: from poverty, the neo-slavery of the sharecropper, illiteracy, mis-education, and lynching, to the heights of humanity reached by the spiritual “sorrow songs” that birthed gospel music and the blues. The capstone of The Souls of Black Folk is Du Bois’s haunting, eloquent description of the concept of the black psyche’s “double consciousness,” which he described as “a peculiar sensation....One ever feels this twoness—an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.”

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